Krt – The Doors Are Closing

by Horror Sleaze Trash on June 6, 2012

Photo By Krt, his cats wall art.

Kurt Eisenlohr is an artist, writer, and bartender living in Portland, Oregon. His poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Asylum, Verbal Abuse, River Styx, and Another Chicago Magazine. You can find him online as well. His art has been shown in many galleries and is featured on the Future Tense Books web site.

The Doors Are Closing

At age 48 I am only important to my cats. And Ala’s horns are always poking me. Day after day I hold the pink end of a pencil to the air and erase her. “Good morning,” I say, and re-draw her, sans horns, but never erase well enough. It’s always time to feed the cats or brush the cats or cuddle the cats, time to change the litter box or pay the bills. I carve a smile in the mirror while shaving, bleed and go to work.

A man and a woman enter, seat themselves, touch symbols on their phones. In my mind I fire three shots. In my mind we are always falling dead like autumn leaves. Dial tones of phones when the grid goes down.

Jefe’ wants to know who’s winning the game.

“When I left home the house was winning, but that was a lifetime ago.”

“Go Packers!” Jefe’ says.

Childhood is a mountain of sugar and salt. Fruit Loops and pork rinds and Wonder Bread. I sometimes miss it. My apartment is warm. I’m always wishing I was in it, until I am. So I leave again and a kid says, “Got a cigarette?”

“Nope.”

“Okay, be a faggot then, faggot.”

I board the MAX, grab a strap, hang from it, see the kid’s face in the window as the train drowns his sound. He’s shouting “faggot,” signing it large so there’s no mistake, as if the word were not a mountain or an ocean or a mailbox in a forest looping back to my fire escape. Blackened skins of bananas moving in the breeze. Toast that won’t surrender its shape. Cheese. Neighbor kids pointing skyward, saying “See, he puts food in his tree.” I eat through the faces of the people crushed around me. MAX tells us the doors are closing. A girl catches a glimpse of herself in my sunglasses, takes a picture with her phone, holds it up for me to see.

I have exactly one picture of my mother, bless her heart. The picture was taken on Halloween, and she is dressed as Dracula.

This picture, hung on the wall of everywhere I live, watching over me.

Time to leave the apartment again.

Big round world on a string grid, made small and oppressive. I enter as the doors are closing, cling to a pole, city rushing by, windows stuffed with billboards.

Straight away I pull a three-top. Middle aged man and his parents. They come every Saturday, ask for separate checks. One for the parents (gray, barely there) and one for the son (pants hiked high, socks exposed.) The son orders halibut. The parents order cod.

They eat in silence, always. Exchange no words except to order and pay. Nod yes or no to any questions asked. Always the same order, ordered in the same way. I call them Project Independence, speculate on their story, imagine sad, impoverished scenes; project them on a wall in a prison cell on the bar TV. I wear a black apron weighed with ballpoint pens, say things like   “Tartar or cocktail sauce? Fries or salad? Hi. Thank you.  Goodbye.”

The four of us. On display like this. Season after season.

The son drops a fork, asks for another. I hand him one, hold tight for a moment as he pulls, then loosen my grip and let go.

I pull the shades on the parking lot, bite down on a piece of nicotine gum, run my American Spirit pitch past Jefe’.

“We’re all dead indians,” he says.

At home, my cats leave their waste on the floor next to the toilet. They’re saying something, but what? The litter box is clean. The water bowls are fresh, the food bowls are full. I feel homesick for a freedom that no longer exists. So do my cats, I suppose.

A woman who lives across the street enters, tells me it’s a religious holiday, and would I please remove the laundry from her drier. I follow her out the door and into her home. Remove a load of towels. Stop the buzzing sound that drove her to me. Spiritual loophole. Non-believer takes the bullet. No one goes to hell. Or do they? Her husband hides, embarrassed, in the bedroom. He sees me see him, pulls the door closed.

Everywhere I look there’s food. And the woman’s nervous smile. And the husband hiding in the bedroom. She rewards me with soup and salad, bags it, sends me back into the world.

“State your faith,” hollers Jefe’.

I toss him the bag as the room fills with bodies. Dinner rush. A screaming child.

Jefe’ digs in. He’s high, has a clean Packers shirt for each day of the year. The days are mostly the same, duplicates, like the shirts.

Mayan co-workers fry fish, do the dishes. I run in circles, taking orders, leveling years. Eight, sinking into nine, nearing eternity. Overcast and cold today, rain.

Flashbulbs freeze me in varies poses. Even music locks me in place. Your face forever on the radio as I fall asleep in the backseat, going wherever it is people go in the night.

Home, I’m guessing, or through a guardrail, into a tree.

Jefe’ points a remote. “What’s your game plan?”

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